Packaging Corner: Is your unit load sustainable? Better test it first

To determine how changes in packaging will impact unit load stability, many companies are turning to a transport test lab.

By ·

To achieve sustainability goals, companies have been making changes to the individual components of a unit load—re-engineering cardboard boxes, pallets and stretch wrap, for example, to reduce material cost and waste. The downside, asserts Ralph Rupert, manager of unit load technology at Millwood, can potentially be a reduction in unit load stability.

“Individually, those packaging changes may not have any impact on the integrity of the unit load during storage and transport,” Rupert says. “But when all the components interact, that’s when stability can be compromised and product damage can occur.”

Take stretch wrap film, for example. Although wrapping a load with a thinner film may require less material, its overall containment force level may not be sufficient to secure a load placed on a thinner pallet.

“If the pallet is not stiff enough, it will actually direct more vibration forces from over-the-road travel into the load, which can overpower the film and potentially cause that load to fail,” explains Rupert. “The interaction of both components needs to be looked at together to better understand the performance issues, so sustainability can be maintained or improved.”

To determine how changes in packaging will impact unit load stability, it’s important to use a transport test lab. In Rupert’s lab at Millwood, he tests and analyzes how vibration, impact and compression forces affect a unit load to ensure that shippers are getting the level of performance and sustainability that they need. Testing can be undertaken for a variety of reasons, including verifying the use of a new packaging product, seeking process improvements or for damage remediation.

Because it employs rapid cycle methodologies, the testing is usually accomplished in half a day and includes findings, an explanation of the observations and recommendations for improving load stability. And it’s affordable, too, typically costing less than a unit load of damaged product, he says.

Besides, adds Rupert, “for every gain in package sustainability, there is a greater potential to lose those gains through damaged goods. Because as soon as any good is damaged, there’s waste associated with that damage as well as the cost, raw materials and energy required to remanufacture a replacement item—not to mention a loss in customer satisfaction.”

Read more Packaging Corner.

About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Hydrogen, the Future of Materials Handling
Large, successful organizations are integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into their lift truck fleets and benefiting from lower operational costs, reduced emissions and improved reliability.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order fulfillment process and increased throughput with near 100% accuracy.
System Report: Brownells new DC is flexible and responsive
Pallet Usage Report: Pallets Remain Critical in the Modern-Day Warehouse
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Pallets: Supporting Product, Processes and the Enterprise
The smallest leak in performance or cost can bring a lean, nimble and speedy supply chain to a halt. During this 30-minute webcast we'll examine how Modern's readers use pallets to keep the wheels turning as they maneuver a road filled with sharp edges and potholes.
Register Today!
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...
Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...

Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...
American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...